I’m so moved. Baby and I have welcomed into the world … well, really, the front yard … our first (sniff) child!
This baby hydrangea is the result of my very first lesson in propagation–right after Marc and I started dating in summer 2009. I blogged about a few of those lessons, way back in the day when it seemed kind of romantic that my kitchen had started to become an impromptu horticulture laboratory.
More quickly than you might think I was to become jaded. But back then, the fact that I couldn’t turn around without knocking over a pot filled with something that looked suspiciously like a dead twig didn’t bug me at all. And all those plastic bags whose contents I might have wanted to toss on the compost because they seemed to hold nothing more than wilted produce? I’d get positively giddy at finding they were instead filled with precious cuttings from some rare viburnum developed in the eighteen-teens. Yeah, for real. That’s what love will do for you.
With all those experiments cooking, you can imagine that some went, shall we say, awry. The ones I was supposed to water, for example … well, the less said about those the better. But the one I left completely to Mother Nature … well, as you see above, it was a spectacular success.
The technique the McVicker taught me is called layering and involves picking a nice low-hanging branch, stripping off the leaves where it forks, and scoring it lightly with a thumbnail. Using an ordinary garden staple, you then fix it in the ground. Add compost, a bit of mulch, a brick to keep it from moving around too much–and forget about it.
(Here are some of the pictures we took at the time. Oh, and my original blog post with the full description of layering is here.)
The plant we used was a plain blue hydrangea, probably Nikko, that grows nearly waist high in summer and sets flower heads the size of cabbages. Since this is what the plant looks like in all its glory…
… I think you can see why I’d want it to reproduce!
But I don’t want you to get the wrong idea from looking at this plant. That is, I don’t want you to get the idea that living with a horticulturist means having the most beautiful yard on the block. The reality is … not so much. The cobbler’s children have no shoes, as the saying goes–the carpenter’s have no cupboards–and the landscape designer’s are waiting for mama to go outside and weed!
And that has not happened. To be scrupulously fair, I’m the one who’s not holding up my end. I had allowed my garden to go for at least two years before Baby moved in (that whole dissertation marathon). And afterwards, between his summer schedule and the crappy hours of the various soul-sucking “gap jobs” I worked while biding my time for the defense and the next academic job fair, the yard got very little attention.
So I was thrilled to see that the McVicker, after getting rained out of attendance at the City Market on Saturday, was too wired to sit around the house but instead charged out into the yard in a hoodie–during a downpour, mind you.
When the sun came out later that afternoon, I stepped out to take a look around. I was admiring the balance he’d gotten with just a few snips of the pruning shears on this plant …
And then, I noticed something off to the right. Something that looked suspiciously like … Was it? Could it be?
A “peewee” hydrangea–a chip off the Nikko blue block!
So the next step is to pot it and nurse it along to a much juicier size … at which point we’ll either give it away, sell it, or find a nice spot in the yard.
But it was a lovely surprise, like a wish long forgotten that suddenly comes true. It’s nice to be reminded that they do that … come true, I mean.